The idea of making a movie based on a videogame has been done numerous times, but most usually end in utter failure. I could write a book on the various franchises in the 80s and 90s that went from the arcade cabinet to the big screen, only to crash and burn for one reason or another. However, times have changed—as has the effects and budget—and it looks like videogame movies are making a comeback. Last year, I looked at “Detective Pikachu,” a film based on the Pokémon franchise by Nintendo. Now, Sega is taking the stage as their beloved videogame character appears in his first theatrical release film, “Sonic the Hedgehog.”
In the small town of Green Hills, a blue hedgehog by the name of Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has been living as a recluse for years, all while keeping the city unaware of his existence. Due to his strange appearance, and strange supersonic abilities, Sonic has to avoid contact with the world around him for his own safety, no matter how lonely it makes him. But one day, when his super-speed powers accidentally cause a massive blackout, it captures the attention of the U.S. Government, who send their best operative, the narcissistic but ingenious Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey), to track down the anomaly. Now on the run, Sonic will have to step out of the shadows as he seeks aid from Green Hills’ Sheriff (James Marsden). Together, the two will have to team up if they’re to have any hope of escaping the mad doctor and his legion of sophisticated machines. The film also stars Tika Sumpter.
When I look at this film, two words come to my mind: Care and Potential. “Sonic the Hedgehog” feels like it was made by people who genuinely cared and wanted to create something from the source material they were given, and not by some suit in Hollywood who just wanted to make a quick buck.
The first sign of care begins by the fact that they actually delayed the movie. Originally, “Sonic the Hedgehog” was scheduled to release back in November of 2019. However, when the first trailer for the film aired online, fans and viewers did not take well to the design of the Sonic character. Obviously, Sonic would have to be made through CGI, but the one the filmmakers originally created was met with extremely poor reception. Even Yuji Naka, one of the original creators of Sonic the Hedgehog, was displeased. So, Jeff Fowler (the Director) and his crew pushed the film back to February as they used the time to create a new design that was closer to the original.
As for the final product, viewers and fans alike loved the new design they went with, myself included. The effects on Sonic are done quite well—they actually went through the effort of even animating his fur. Plus, the effects of his—we’ll call it ‘Sonic-Speed’—are awesome, especially during the action scenes. The fact that the people behind the film actually listened to fans critiques and pushed the film back to give a better character design is just mind-blowing to me, but I hope their actions stand as a strong example to future filmmakers. A good listener takes criticism and uses it in a constructive manner. A poor listener takes criticism and uses it to play the blame game.
As for the rest of the film, it was a fun experience for me. Like I said before, the people working on this film cared about the source material, and it shows in the film. From the fight and chase scenes, to little references and Easter Eggs throughout the movie that fans of the games will enjoy. Even the designs of Robotnik’s machines mimic the enemies from the first game.
While the story is a bit simple, and it’s probably the reason other critics are harsher toward the film, I found it genuine. It’s a typical story about a young but lonely hero who finally makes friends all while facing an antagonistic villain, but that’s not a bad thing. I believe you can write a simple story, IF you’re creative with it and try to create genuine characters. Which this film did for me. When Sonic makes friends with the people he meets, I believe it.
As for the villain, Jim Carrey practically steals the whole show. If there’s anyone in Hollywood who can pull off a cartoon villain and make it great, it’s him! The man knows how to play a humorous character, while maintaining a level of menace so he still comes off as a credible threat to our hero. Plus, he looks like he’s having a blast as the villain.
Finally, the last thing I need to address is the potential of this film, starting with a brief example. 12 years ago, the idea of making a movie series out of a comic book character was thought ridiculous, and when “Iron Man,” the first MCU film, came out, people found it average. Cut to today, and several billion dollars later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest thing in theaters. Where am I going with this? Well, you have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can start running marathons.
In my eye, this film has the potential to jumpstart a brand-new film series for fans both young and wise alike, one that combines action and humor with some genuine wholesome themes. If Marvel can do it, then I believe the people behind Sonic can too. Because now that the film has been so well received, and now that they’ve introduced the basics of the character through the first film, the creators will hopefully have more room to explore what they can do with the franchise and story.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” is rated PG for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language. This is definitely a must-see for everyone who’s a Sonic Fan or someone looking for a fun family-friendly movie. There’s nothing left to be said except the final score for this film is an 8 out of 10!
Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. He currently serves as a Journalist and Copy Editor to the Coastal Breeze News and is working on becoming a Published Author.